Botox is well known as a less expensive alternative to plastic surgery for smoothing out wrinkles. Now it’s also getting a lot of attention as a potential incontinence treatment.
Botox, also known as Botulinum Toxin Type A, is a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which is responsible for the type of food poisoning known as botulism.
Doctors have created a sterile and purified form of botulinum toxin that can be injected directly into muscles. The toxin blocks the release of acetylcholine, a chemical secreted by nerve cells to signal muscle contractions. In cosmetic uses, this causes muscles underneath the skin of the face to contract less frequently, getting rid of frown lines.
Used as an incontinence treatment, Botox can be injected into the muscles controlling the bladder, relaxing them and preventing spasms. Relaxing the bladder muscles also may create more capacity in the bladder for holding urine. Botox also can be injected into the urinary sphincter, causing it to relax and allow urine flow.